Best Portable Air Conditioners

As the summer heats up, you may be looking for a new cooling solution for your home. In recent years, portable air conditioners have become increasingly popular due to their small size, reasonable price, and good cooling power.

Before you decide which portable air conditioner to buy, however, it is a good idea to determine who makes the best portable air conditioners.

This article will provide you with the top reviews from leading manufacturers and also give you a general overview of what to look for when purchasing a portable air conditioner.

Portable Air ConditionersCooling Capacity (square feet)Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)Weight (pounds)Price Rating
Soleus Air KY-80
200 sq. ft.8.5 EER52 pounds$$4
EdgeStar Ultra Compact 8,000 BTU
200 sq. ft.9.5 EER56 pounds$$3
Haier Portable Air Conditioner, 8000 BTU
200 sq. ft.10.8 EER56 pounds$$$3
NewAir AC-10100E Ultra Compact 10,000 BTU
325 sq. ft.11.2 EER50 pounds$$$3
Honeywell MN10CESWW 10,000 BTU
400 sq. ft.11.1 EER74.5 pounds $$$$4
Frigidaire FRA093PT1 9,000 BTU
425 sq. ft.8.9 EER86 pounds$$$3.5
Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose
500 sq. ft.11.2 EER63 pounds$$$$4.5
LG Electronics LP1311BXR 13,000 BTU
600 sq. ft.9.7 EER69 pounds$$$$$2
SPT WA-1420E 14000 BTU
700 sq. ft8.9 EER73 pounds$$$$4
Keystone KSTAP14A 14,000 BTU
700 sq. ft.2.7 EER75 pounds$$$$4
Friedrich PH14B 13500 BTU ZoneAire Series
700 sq. ft.9.5 EER96 pounds$$$$$$4

About Portable Air Conditioners

Like a central air-conditioner or split A/C, a portable unit has all of the necessary components of an air conditioner. It just houses them in a single unit.

Because all of the components are housed in one case, you can easily move a portable air conditioner from place to place. This is particularly useful if you have only one air conditioner and you want to use it to cool multiple rooms at different times.

As you can see from the chart above, some portable air conditioners come with one hose for venting while other units sport a dual hose system. The hose is used to force the hot air to the outside of your home.

Are Portable Air Conditioners Effective?

A portable air conditioner removes the moisture from the air inside your home, condenses it into its liquid form (water), and collects this in a condensation collection bucket.

In general, portable air conditioners are fairly effective at cooling and removing moisture from the air. Consumer Reports unveiled the findings of an exhaustive study about portable ac units and determined, however, that portable units are not as effective as window models.

But if you cannot or do not want to place a window unit on your window sill, a portable unit can be a good alternative.

Do bear in mind, however, that there are some drawbacks to going with the portable model, namely dealing with the condensation bucket.

In many models, you will have to regularly dump out the condensation from the bucket. We have seen that some models come with evaporator technology systems, which evaporate the water for you. These are kind of nice because it means that you don’t have to empty the water bucket regularly.

How Many BTUs Do You Need?

Before you make any purchase of a portable air conditioner, you need to determine how much cooling power you need for any given room.

Cooling capacity for air conditioners is measured in British thermal units (BTUs). You need to determine how many BTUs you need for the room you wish to cool.

If you purchase an air conditioner that provides too many BTUs, the unit will turn on and off constantly. Not only is this highly inefficient and causes undue wear and tear on the machine, but it will also do a lousy job in keeping you cool. On the other hand, if you choose a machine that is too small, then the unit will be running constantly and not adequately cooling the room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo determine the proper size for the portable air conditioner that you need, you need to take measurements of the room where you plan to use the machine. Once you have those figures, you can use a number of online BTU calculators to calculate how many BTUs you should look for.

If you live in a particularly humid part of the country, it is recommended that you go with even more BTUs to deal with the moisture. Drier parts of the country, however, necessitate lower BTUs.

To put this in perspective, let’s assume that you have a 500 square-foot room. Most experts recommend that you go with a 12000 BTU air conditioner. A smaller room like a den – up to 250 feet² – would require 6000 BTUs of cooling power.

Resist the urge, however, to purchase a much larger unit than the required BTUs. As stated earlier, this will simply result in wasted energy and larger electricity bills during the summer months.

The Best Features for Your Portable AC

Before you make your decision about which portable air conditioner is best, you also need to consider some of the different features available on units these days. In particular, different models provide nice features like louvers to direct the airflow, LED display screens, and various levels of energy efficiency.

Let’s talk a little bit about the most important features that we think you should look for when purchasing a new portable A/C unit.

Louvers can be very important to help control the airflow of your portable air conditioner. We highly recommend that you go for a unit that has adjustable louvers because this will give you the most control over where you want to direct cool air.

Another important feature is the control panel of the portable air conditioner. We recommend that you look for a unit that has a digital readout and comes with buttons that are easy to use. Most units these days also come with a remote control, which can be helpful for people with limited mobility.

Another issue to consider before making your decision to buy specific portable air conditioner is to do some research about its efficiency. Many units come with efficiency features including timers that allow you to set what time you want the air-conditioner to come on as well as a programmable thermostat that allows you to set the cooling temperature to a certain level.

We particularly like the timer feature available on many units. This allows you to set the air conditioner to turn on before you return home from work. So not only do you save electricity by not running the unit all day, but you ensure that your house is cool before you enter it.

Other units come with energy efficient components like multi-speed fans. This is a nifty feature because it allows you to use the air conditioner on a low, medium, or high setting. This can save you money on your electricity bill while also keeping you cool even when it is not scorching outside.

Window Kits for Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners are quite simple to install and most come with easy to use window kits. Basically, you open the box, slide the portable air conditioner out, plug it in, and then run the exhaust tube through a window or sliding glass door. In about 5 min., you are ready to experience air conditioning in your room.

If you need additional exhaust tubing with, there are extension kits that you can purchase for this. Experts recommend that you do not try to rig it, however, with something like a dryer venting hose. While the two hoses may look similar, they are not interchangeable.

Is There a Portable Air Conditioner Ventless Model?

We get this question a lot.

Portable air conditioner has many benefits. The biggest one, of course, is that you can put the unit just about anywhere. As long as it is on a flat surface, it should work just fine.

But many people think that it is possible to have a portable air conditioner without a vent.

Unfortunately, this is simply not the case.

The portable air conditioner – like all air-conditioners – requires venting to expel the hot air that it removes from your home. Portable air conditioners can be vented through a window, sliding glass door, or in some cases even through a drop ceiling.

The portable air conditioner works just like a central AC in that it relies on the refrigeration cycle to cool the air. During this cycle, the portable air conditioner will remove the humidity from your home. In so doing, it will produce hot air. This hot air has to be vented from your room. The best way to vent this is to force it outside of your home through a window or door.

Because the portable air conditioner is a single unit, it relies on a hose to vent the hot air outside. Moreover, it collects any condensation in a bucket that we discussed above. This will need to periodically be emptied, unless you have a portable air conditioner with either operated technology.

Where and How to Buy a Portable Air Conditioner

If you buy a portable air conditioner, it is far simpler than investing in a central or split air conditioner. Because installation is so simple, you can basically pick up a portable air conditioner at any local home improvement store or big-box chain, take it home, and set it up in a snap.

As a result, you can find portable air conditioners just about anywhere, including through online merchants like eBay or Amazon.

Local stores like Home Depot, Target, and even Costco sell portable air conditioners. To get the best deal, it is a good idea to search around and to also take a look at online vendors who often provide free shipping and will deliver the unit to your door.

Though portable air conditioners are indeed portable, they still do weigh 70 to 90 pounds. If you have mobility issues or you simply don’t want to lug an 80-pound piece of machinery home, consider going with an online merchant who will deliver it to your door.

On the other hand, there is a benefit of going to a local store to make your purchase. Namely, you can take a look and even try out the unit before you purchase. Sometimes, returns are easier to local merchants as well.

In our experience, the lowest prices can be found to online merchants including Amazon, Overstock, and others. If you do choose to make your purchase online, make sure that you buy from a reputable seller and that you follow our tips for staying safe when you make an online purchase which can be found here.

What Is the Best Portable Air Conditioner Brand?

The top brands for portable air conditioners are generally considered to be GE, LG, and Friedrich. Haier and Frigidaire also make top portable ac units. Other highly-rated manufacturers are Whynter, Delonghi, SPT, and Edgestar.

GE has been making air-conditioners for close to 100 years. GE is one of the most recognized electronics brands worldwide these days. Not only does it produce portable air conditioners for home use, but GE is also renowned for electronic equipment that it sells to individuals, governments, and corporations.

GE has a reputation for high quality products. In terms of selecting portable air conditioner, there are many options available from the GE brand.

LG is based in South Korea and was founded after World War II. It is moved into manufacturing air conditioners recent years, including portable air conditioners as well as split A/C units.

LG is renowned for providing highly energy-efficient portable air conditioners, and they make a number of excellent and highly rated portable A/C units.

Friedrich is based out of Texas and specializes in constructing air conditioners. Friedrich units tend to be pricier than other air-conditioners, but many people feel that they are the best made and most reliable. In our experience, the Friedrich models are really energy-efficient, but they are expensive.

Haier is a recent entry into the portable air conditioner market. Founded in China in the 1980s, Haier began as a refrigerator manufacturer.

Since 2000, this company has grown quickly and is one of the leading manufacturers of portable air conditioners. Haier is known for producing budget friendly units.

Frigidaire is an old American company and one of the first to enter the air-conditioning market back in 1916. In 1986, Frigidaire was acquired by Electrolux (who specializes in selling air-conditioners to India these days).

In our experience, Frigidaire makes excellent air conditioners, which are also highly energy-efficient.

Portable Air Conditioner Efficiency

Energy efficiency is often something that we are asked about terms of the best portable air conditioners. The term “energy efficiency” is a reference to how effectively the portable A/C unit uses the energy to provide cooling.

The reason why you want a more energy-efficient unit is because it’s going to cost you less money. The most efficient portable air conditioners use less electricity and this means that your utility bills will be smaller. In addition, thumb upthere may be government rebates for highly efficient units.

The second reason why an energy-efficient unit can be a good choice is for environmental reasons. A highly efficient portable air conditioner will consume less energy and shrink the environment impact them using the air conditioner.

When you go to buy a new portable air conditioner, you will notice that it has been given and energy efficiency ratio (EER). This should be clearly marked on the type for the unit. These days, the majority of portable air-conditioners will fall somewhere between an EER of 8 and 14 or 15.

We recommend that you seek out an EER of at least 10 for the highest level of efficiency at the most reasonable price. You will notice that the units with the highest EER (13-15) are often far costlier than lower rated units.

You may have also noticed a tag that says Energy Star. This refers to a government program, which identifies the most highly energy-efficient portable air conditioners. The Energy Star ratings are handed out by the Environmental Protection Agency.

To qualify for an Energy Star rating, portable air conditioner must be cost effective and offer huge Energy savings. The EPA runs rigorous tests to determine if the portable air conditioner meets their requirements.

The other benefit of looking for an Energy Star air conditioner is that you can receive tax rebates.

We hope that this information is helpful to you. Stay cool this summer!

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